'Beware of clinics whose surgeons are not specialists'

Knesset c'tee has collected numerous complaints from patients who said they had been severely damaged by operations in private clinics.

plastic surgery 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
plastic surgery 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Not every doctor who calls himself a “surgeon” and works in a private clinic is the real thing, the Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee said on Monday.
The public must be wary when going to private surgical clinics and choosing a surgeon there, committee chairman Haim Katz (Likud) said at the end of an urgent session on the dangers of surgery by nonspecialists.
The committee has collected numerous complaints from patients who said they had been severely damaged by undergoing operations – often esthetic plastic surgery and liposuction to remove fat from the body – in private clinics.
Katz demanded that the Health Ministry boost its supervision of private surgical clinics and of doctors who violate the terms of their medical licenses. He suggested that ministry inspectors make surprise visits and quickly hold hearings for doctors accused of violations such as performing surgery for which they are not licensed.
The committee called on the ministry to publish immediately the requirements for each type of operation performed in private clinics, and to increase awareness of these among the public. The ministry’s Dr. Chezy Levy and Dr. Michael Dor immediately committed themselves to do this.
Batya Mor-Yosef, a patient who underwent liposuction at the hands of a doctor who was not a surgical specialist, said the physician misled her. “He didn’t examine my medical file, even though I told him I have sensitivities. He promised I would lose 30 kilos and gave me a local anesthetic, but he performed the surgery in a region of my body that was not anesthetized,” said Mor-Yosef. “I had excruciating pains and lost five liters of blood. That’s the way he sent me home. And after all that, I didn’t lose even a kilo.”
Complaints must be filed with the police against such doctors, Katz declared.
Kadima MK Rachel Adatto, who is a gynecologist and lawyer by profession and initiated the committee’s discussion, said that the lack of state supervision of the quality of operations and surgeons has created a “jungle” in which dentists inject Botox and urologists carry out liposuctions.
According to the law, every general MD is permitted to work in all fields of medicine even if he is not a specialist in them. As a result, a doctor who is not a dermatologist can work in the field. In 2006, however, regulations stated that plastic surgery must be carried out by a doctor with a specialist’s certification in plastic surgery – but the Health Ministry is entitled to allow doctors with other specialist certificates to perform them.
The committee was also told that in July 2006, the same Knesset committee demanded that the ministry publish fields of specialty required to perform each kind of operation and to list what type of specialty is “close” to the other fields and would thus allow other types of physician to perform them. The ministry told the committee then that it would prepare its list and publish it within four months – but to date, it has still not done so.
The ministry conceded that it still lacks data on the number of operations carried out in private surgical clinics. It also did not know if non-specialists performed surgery and if so, how many there were.
While the ministry’s medical branch carries out inspections of private surgical clinics once every three years, none of them looked at the result of the medical treatment given there. The ministry said that in the past decade, it performed more than 100 planned inspection visits at clinics, but only 10 surprise visits. Ministry officials also said that
for this year and next, it was allocated 60 manpower slots to boost its inspections in general, but none were allocated for visiting private surgical clinics.
Katz urged the public who wanted to attend private surgical clinics to go into the ministry’s website at www.health.gov.il and look for the clinic’s license, what fields it is allowed to practice and what specialty certificate the doctor has earned.